Utah Senate votes to require burial or cremation of fetal remains

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, presides over the Senate in Salt Lake City on Thursday Dec. 12, 2019 as lawmakers hold a special session focusing on tax reform.

Members of the Utah Senate gave an early vote of support on Monday to a bill that requires health care providers to either bury or cremate the remains of an abortion or miscarriage.

Bill sponsor Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said the bill is meant to ensure that the bodies of unborn children are treated with dignity, and to empower pregnant women to determine the method of disposal if they so choose.

“If you believe that an unborn child is a human being,” Bramble said, “then when that life is terminated, dealing with the remains is important.”

Bramble has sponsored legislation in the past that restricts and regulates abortion. And during Monday’s debate on SB67, he chastised unnamed critics on who he said refuse to acknowledge the humanity of unborn children.

“The left refuses to admit that that’s a child,” Bramble said.

In a prepared statement, Lauren Simpson, policy director for the left-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah, said her organization is supportive of women making the choices that are right for them in the aftermath of an abortion or miscarriage. But she added that Bramble’s bill “imposes an ideological mandate on a deeply personal experience.”

Simpson suggested that Bramble and the bill’s supporters are working to advance an agenda of restricting access to abortion, and that enacting SB67 could be used in future court cases to argue that Utah law treats human life as beginning at conception.

“We want all women to be empowered to make whatever choice is best for them following a pregnancy loss and do whatever will help them best process that experience,” Simpson said. "But we reject this effort to co-opt those sensitive experiences to further some politicians’ political agenda.”

The Senate voted 21-6 in favor of the bill on Monday, but an additional Senate vote is required before the bill moves to the House for consideration.